What Senate Republicans are saying about Trump’s impeachment trial

By: - February 9, 2021 12:40 am

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH). Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

WASHINGTON — The second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump is set to begin Tuesday, when the Senate will start hearing arguments over whether Trump should be convicted of inciting the violent mob that lay siege to the Capitol.

So far, no Senate Republican has outright backed a vote to convict Trump, and many have questioned whether the Senate should be conducting an impeachment trial of an ex-president.

Nine House Democrats have been tasked as impeachment managers, essentially prosecutors in outlining the case against Trump.

They’ll present that case to a chamber that’s evenly divided among 48 Democrats, two independents who usually vote with them, and 50 Republicans. All but five of the Republicans voted last month to declare the trial unconstitutional.

At least 17 Republican senators would need to join all 48 Democrats and the two independents to convict Trump, a vote that requires a two-thirds majority. Given the overwhelming vote to label the trial unconstitutional, the House impeachment managers appear to have a tough job at hand.

“I will listen to the evidence presented by both sides and then make a judgment based on the Constitution and what I believe is in the best interests of the country,” Ohio Republican U.S. Sen. Portman said in a statement last month.

The five Republicans who did not support the procedural motion last month to declare the impeachment trial unconstitutional were Sens. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania; Susan Collins of Maine; Lisa Murkowski of Alaska; Mitt Romney of Utah; and Ben Sasse of Nebraska.

In the pretrial briefs, Trump’s attorneys denied that he was responsible for the attack and argued he cannot be tried in the Senate because he has left office. Previewing their arguments, a filing from House Democrats argues that Trump violated his oath of office, and “betrayed the American people.”

The impeachment charge against Trump was passed in the House with support from every Democrat and 10 Republicans.

It’s not yet clear how long the trial will take before senators vote on whether to convict, but it is expected to last through at least the rest of the week.

Here’s what other Republican senators and one independent from States Newsroom states have said so far about the impeachment trial, and whether they plan to convict or acquit Trump:


Marco Rubio:

“The first chance I get to vote to end this trial, I will do it, because I think it’s really bad for America,” Rubio said last month on “Fox News Sunday.”

Rick Scott:

“This impeachment is nothing more than political theater,” Scott wrote on Twitter. “The Democrats are confusing the U.S. Capitol, where we should be helping the American people, with another big white building in DC that specializes in theater and shows…. the Kennedy Center. It’s time to get back to work.”


Chuck Grassley:

“It’s one thing, according to the Constitution, to impeach a president, but can you impeach a citizen?” he said, according to The Daily Iowan. “Because now it’s not President Trump, it’s citizen Trump.”

Joni Ernst:

“My concern right now is that the president is no longer in office,” Ernst said in a statement last month. “Congress would be opening itself to a dangerous standard of using impeachment as a tool for political revenge against a private citizen, and the only remedy at this point is to strip the convicted of their ability to run for future office —–a move that would undoubtedly strip millions of voters of their ability to choose a candidate in the next election.”


Jerry Moran:

“Unfortunately, the Constitution does not clearly answer whether a former president can be impeached and then tried by the Senate. This decision will set precedent for future Congresses in regards to impeachment, and I am clearly on the side that a former president should not be subject to impeachment,” Moran said in a statement last month. “Giving the green light that future Congresses can impeach a former president would cause extreme damage to our country and the future of the presidency.”

Roger Marshall:

“Not only is it unconstitutional to impeach a president after he leaves office, I firmly believe an impeachment effort at this juncture will only raise already heated temperatures of the American public and further divide our country at a time when we should be focused on bringing the country together and moving forward,” Marshall said in a statement last month.


Bill Cassidy:

“We will now have, hopefully, presentations from both sides, and we will consider the evidence as impartial jurors,” Cassidy said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

John Kennedy:

“These proceedings, in part, represent a thinly veiled effort by the uber-elites in our country, who look down on most Americans, to denigrate further those people who chose to vote for President Trump and not vote for President Biden,” Kennedy said in a statement to the Monroe News-Star.


Susan Collins:

“I’ll approach it as I’ve approached the other two impeachment trials … I will listen to the evidence and make an assessment based on the evidence and the Constitution,” Collins told reporters at the Capitol last month.

Angus King (independent)

“I will say that his actions after the election particularly after about the first of December when it was absolutely clear what the outcome was, was profoundly damaging to our country—the most damaging activity on behalf of the U.S. president that I’ve ever seen,” King said in an MSNBC interview last month. “He basically delegitimized the Democratic process. He misled millions and millions of people he then invited the mob to Washington.”


Roy Blunt:

“I believe the constitutional purpose for presidential impeachment is to remove a president from office, not to punish a person after they have left office,” Blunt said in a statement last month. “No consideration was given to impeaching President Nixon when he resigned in 1974. The Constitution hasn’t changed and the Congress should not set a new, destructive precedent.”

Josh Hawley:

“Democrats appear intent on weaponizing every tool at their disposal — including pushing an unconstitutional impeachment process — to further divide the country,” Hawley said in a statement last month.


Steve Daines:

“Trump is a departed president,” Daines said during a radio interview last month. “He’s a private citizen. The Constitution is very clear in Article 1, Section 3, where it says when the President of the United States is tried, well, who’s the President of the United States? It’s actually Joe Biden, not Donald Trump.”


Richard Burr:

“This is a civilian now. A charge like this would go to the Justice Department and be referred for prosecution,” Burr said to reporters in the Capitol last month. “Unfortunately, that’s not what they’re doing.”

Thom Tillis:

“On January 6, I said voting to reject the states’ electors was a dangerous precedent we should not set. Likewise, impeaching a former President who is now a private citizen would be equally unwise,” Tillis said in a statement last month. “The impeachment power can be turned into a political weapon, especially if it is primarily used to disqualify an individual citizen from running for public office.”


Rob Portman:

“I will listen to the evidence presented by both sides and then make a judgment based on the Constitution and what I believe is in the best interests of the country,” Portman said in a statement last month.


Pat Toomey:

“I’m going to listen to the arguments on both sides and make the decision that I think is right,” Toomey said Sunday on CNN.


Marsha Blackburn:

“It is time for our country to move forward, instead of looking backwards and fighting the same battles with each other,” Blackburn said in a Twitter post last month, calling the trial “partisan” and “unconstitutional.”

Bill Hagerty:

“Under Article 2, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution, a presidential impeachment trial—the purpose of which is to determine whether the President should be removed from office—must involve ‘The President,’ and Article 1, Section 3 provides that, ‘When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside,’” Hagerty said in a statement last month. “Yet, ‘the President’ is not on trial, and the Chief Justice is not presiding, which speaks volumes about the constitutionality of this proceeding.”


Ron Johnson:

“I believe an impeachment trial of a former president is unconstitutional and would set a very dangerous precedent,” Johnson posted on Twitter last month. “There is no provision in the Constitution for holding such a trial over a former president who is now a private citizen. Where would we get the authority to do so?”



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Laura Olson
Laura Olson

Laura covers the nation's capital as a senior reporter for States Newsroom, a network of nonprofit outlets that includes Ohio Capital Journal. Her areas of coverage include politics and policy, lobbying, elections, and campaign finance.